Three Trades That Should Happen Tomorrow

Dave · May 8, 2007 at 8:05 am · Filed Under Mariners 

One of the basic tenets of market economics is that free trade allows all parties involved to benefit by exchanging goods that are of more use to others than they are to themselves. You have lots of berries, I have lots of meat, let’s make a deal and we’ll all have better meals.

Baseball generally doesn’t work this way. Teams become overly attached to their own players and generally don’t make trades to balance their organizational talent levels, but instead horde all their players until they believe they are contending, then pay through the nose to acquire the missing pieces.

Sometimes, however, it just makes sense for two organizations to exchange pieces. There are several scenarios playing out right now where clubs have giant holes at specific positions and are overloaded at other spots, making for an inefficient use of resources. For the good of all involved, and because trades are fun, here are three deals that major league clubs should pull off tomorrow.

1. Tampa Bay trades OF Rocco Baldelli to Atlanta for C Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

Tampa has too many outfielders. They’ve had too many outfielders for a couple of years now. With Carl Crawford, Delmon Young, and Elijah Dukes, they’ve already got three guys who should be playing everyday. Add in Jonny Gomes as a fourth OF with some power and the reality that B.J. Upton should probably end up in the outfield in the not too distant future, and they don’t need Rocco Baldelli. What they do need is a catcher, however, as Dioner Navarro is pretty horrible and it’s the one position they don’t have any real depth in at the minor league level.

Atlanta, on the other hand, has handed Matt Diaz an everyday job in LF after jettisoning Ryan Langerhans, and he’s a much better fit as a RH platoon partner or fourth outfielder. He doesn’t provide enough offense to make up for his below average defense, and at 29 years old, he’s not exactly the future. There’s also the issue of Andruw Jones impending free agency with no internal replacement, and the Braves are in need of an outfielder, preferably one who can play left field this year and potentially move to center next year. In Jarrod Saltalamacchia, they have the best catching prospect in the game, a switch-hitter with power and a good approach at the plate. In the nice-problem-to-have department, however, Salty has this guy named Brian McCann’s ahead of him on the depth chart, and that won’t be changing anytime soon.

Salty would be an immediate upgrade over Dioner Navarro for the D’Rays, and provide them with a young star at the one position they don’t have a young star. Baldelli would provide an upgrade over Diaz as the Braves make their pennant push this year and an in-house fallback plan should Andruw Jones not re-sign over the winter. The Braves improve their team using only a resource that has little chance of impacting their team, while the Devil Rays continue to load up for a hostile takeover of the A.L. East beginning in 2009.

2. Chicago trades OF Jacque Jones to Anaheim for SS Sean Rodriguez.

Like the Devil Rays, the Cubs have too many outfielders. Their defense needs Felix Pie in center field, but with Jones, Floyd, Murton, and Soriano running around, they have too many guys fighting for at-bats in a league without a DH as it is. Jones is a consistently underrated player, combining good defense with power against RH pitching, but he’s not significantly better than the guys the Cubs could easily replace him with.

Besides Vlad Guerrero, the Angels just can’t hit. They have gaping holes at LF and DH, with Garret Anderson and Shea Hillenbrand providing the normal below average performance that we’ve come to expect from two of the game’s more overrated players. Playing in the worst division in baseball, their pitching staff is poised to carry them to another playoff spot, but the offense needs help and needs it soon.

Sean Rodriguez has a good knack for hitting but hasn’t made himself a permanent home on the diamond yet, as his defense at short is questionable at best and he’s also spent some time at second base, third base, and in center field. With the Cubs lack of upper level SS prospects, they can afford to hope his bat outweighs his defensive issues at the position. The Angels have no real need for Rodriguez with talents like Erick Aybar ahead of him on the depth chart as it is.

3. Seattle trades OF Wladimir Balentien to Minnesota for RHP Scott Baker.

The Jeff Weaver experiment looks like a failure, and Horacio Ramirez isn’t doing much better. Cha Baek is a AAAA pitcher with no upside, and the Mariners lack upper level pitching depth behind him. So, without making a move, there aren’t many internal options that can help this team patch the back-end of the rotation, or be counted on as useful contributors to the 2008 rotation. The M’s need another effective starting pitcher, and it would help if he didn’t cost $10 million on a multiyear contract.

The Twins, meanwhile, continue to try to contend while punting the left field position. Josh Rabe, Jason Kubel, and Jason Tyner are not the kind of guys who should be splitting at-bats at a power position for a team with playoff aspirations. The Twins could use a left fielder with some power, and with Torii Hunter’s looming free agency, it would help if he was right-handed and under contract for more than just one year.

Meanwhile, the Twins have no need for Scott Baker, who is stuck in the glut of quality pitching prospects toiling away in Rochester. He’s behind live-armed top prospect Matt Garza and strike-throwing machine Kevin Slowey, as well as southpaw Glen Perkins, all of whom are waiting for Sidney Ponson to implode to get a shot at the Twins rotation. Oh, and they get this guy named Francisco Liriano back next year. Baker is buried in Minnesota, but has shown he’s a major league quality pitcher, throwing up a nifty 16/62 BB/K rate in half a season last year and is currently dominating the International League (3 walks, 30 Ks in 30 IP). He’s a strike-thrower without a dominant outpitch, but his stuff is several grades ahead of guys like Cha Baek, and he’d instantly become the Mariners 4th best starting pitcher. He’s also 25 and not eligible for free agency for 5 more years.

Wladimir Balentien, meanwhile, is tearing up the PCL, hitting .357/.430/.625 as a 22-year-old. He’s cut down on his strikeouts and the increased contact has allowed his secondary skills to be lifted by a decent batting average for the first time in several years. He has prodigious raw power and fits into the Twins mold of aggressive toolsy players. As he’s going to be out of options after this season, he’ll have to stick on a major league roster next year, and he’d fill an obvious hole for the Twins. The Mariners are already struggling to find a spot in the line-up for top prospect Adam Jones, and its unlikely they’ll want to break in two young outfielders at the same time next year. As a RH pull hitter, Balentien’s not a great fit for Safeco Field, and by bringing back a young arm that can help the rotation both now and in the future, he’ll provide some immediate value to the franchise.


93 Responses to “Three Trades That Should Happen Tomorrow”

  1. Steve T on May 8th, 2007 10:55 am

    Raul as the heir to Edgar tells you all you need to know about the decline of this franchise, and the likely continuation of that decline for at least three more years.

  2. msb on May 8th, 2007 10:56 am

    If they did, then where do you think they will go for replacements?

    supposedly they were also in on Brian Lawrence before he agreed with the Mets

    Ibanez is the media relations department’s “go to” guy for charity programs, promotional appearances, and whenever the team needs a player to act as a spokesman.

    and, judging from the other day when Dan Wilson threw out the first pitch to Ibanez, and the entire Wilson family (down to Little Abraham) felt compelled to each stop and hug Raul, he is much loved in the organization as a person.

  3. Dave on May 8th, 2007 10:57 am

    More inside info?

    Not really – I think most of us are aware that trading Ichiro would be a monumental effort that required approval from all kinds of executive powers. It’s not the kind of thing that Bavasi can just do. I’m not saying he won’t be traded under any circumstances, but I don’t think we should assume that he certainly will be.

    What kind of price would the M’s have to pay?

    Probably just a low level prospect. The Rockies are essentially just looking to move him to another team and get free of his contract, and any talent coming back would be a bonus.

  4. Mat on May 8th, 2007 11:06 am

    Baker is pitching in the International League right now, not the PCL. Not a huge detail, but his numbers would be that much more impressive if he was in the PCL.

    For the most part, I think that’d be a great trade for the Twins and the Mariners. The Twins desperately need right-handed pop, and currently have absolutely no solution on hand for DH next year. (I don’t think it’s entirely unreasonable to think that Kubel could progress enough to be a decent LF solution. He had a PECOTA projected EQA of about .280 this season, and figures to have a little more power than he’s shown so far. He’s also far from a sure thing to take a step forward.)

    I’m not sure what the biggest hurdle to this trade would be–yes, Bavasi would surely prefer a veteran solution to the rotation problems, but Terry Ryan would sooner cut off his arm than trade away a pitching prospect, even one that’s buried like Baker is. The only thing that plays in favor of the Twins trading Baker is that he apparently doesn’t mesh very well with Rick Anderson.

  5. Steve Nelson on May 8th, 2007 11:17 am

    Last time the Mariners traded a power minor league hitter to the Twins, wasn’t it some guy named David Arias?

  6. Gomez on May 8th, 2007 11:23 am

    I agree, Dave, on where Wlad is at as a hitter. He’s improved his approach at the plate and he can hit for some power but he’s not .350 good. He’s still by and large a hacker, just not as bad as he’s been in the past. I think swapping him into RF for Guillen would be, at best, a wash, but it’d also be his 1st year in the bigs, with a likely adjustment period, so it’s likely he’d be far from his potential out of the gate.

    Interesting trade proposals. I actually would be more comfortable with a Scott Baker in the #5 slot than any of our Tacoma SPs.

    While I agree that letting Ichiro go and starting 2008 with two rookie RH bats in the outfield is probably not a good idea… I get this feeling that it may be what the Mariners will do, unless they deal Ichiro and get one heck of an OF in return. The FA market has not been kind to the M’s the last few years (not that our front office has helped) and I’m not sure it’ll be any kinder this offseason.

  7. Dylan on May 8th, 2007 11:23 am

    Is BHK really that much of an upgrade over HoRam or Weaver?

  8. Dylan on May 8th, 2007 11:24 am

    Also, if the Rainiers pitching coach has been able to teach Wlad to stay off the low and away junk, why can’t he do the same for Beltre? He looked so calm and collected at the plate in the make-up against Boston, then went back to his usually hacking. Still love the guy though.

  9. Dave on May 8th, 2007 11:27 am

    I really don’t think Wlad’s going to get a shot here, honestly. The M’s are essentially locked into Ibanez, Vidro, Beltre, Sexson, Lopez, Betancourt, and Johjima for next year. That gives them two open line-up spots in the outfield, one of which is probably going to be filled by Adam Jones. If we pencil him in for either CF or RF, depending on whether Ichiro is still here, that leaves one spot available, but the team would have 6 RH bats and 2 LH bats. And Ibanez/Vidro aren’t exactly the left-handed sock the organization covets.

    The M’s will have to have some kind of LH power hitter in the line-up next year, especially if Ibanez’s decline is real and not just an early season slump. Putting Jones and Balentien in the line-up basically makes the team all RH, and I don’t think they’d be willing to do that.

    I could be wrong, but I think next year, we’ll see Wlad or AJ, but not both. And since Wlad is in his last option year, trade bait seems like his best use for the team.

  10. Gomez on May 8th, 2007 11:29 am

    55. Ah yes, Arias. Coming off a 322/390/511 year in A ball as a 20 year old, they dealt him as the PTNBL for Dave Hollins.

    I’m sure neither side at the time had any idea what he’d become. He was just another good A baller at the time. Not the best deal for the long term, though.

  11. eponymous coward on May 8th, 2007 11:31 am

    Is BHK really that much of an upgrade over HoRam or Weaver?

    BHK’s regular season ERA last year: 5.57
    Weaver’s: 5.76

    Only one of those guys pitched half their games in Coors Field. Kim’s also younger and has a better K/IP rate.

    I’d say he’s worth a shot. I’d rather get Baker, though.

  12. Dave on May 8th, 2007 11:32 am

    Do I need to scold you for using ERA to evaluate a pitcher, EC?

  13. eponymous coward on May 8th, 2007 11:40 am

    It’s quicker to bring up Baseball Reference than xFIP on my work computer, but Kim’s xFIP was 4.46 last year, Weaver’s was 5.38, which is line with what I expected, based on peripherals and Kim playing half a season in Denver- Kim performed better in 2006 than Weaver. The ERAs aren’t particularly misleading.

    It’s fairly rare to see someone who has an ERA out of line with xFIP + park and defense adjusted factors for very long. Ryan Franklin and Elmer Dessens can have fluke seasons where it looks like they are elite pitchers, but it’s pretty rare to have back-to-back fluke seasons. You have to be able to strike guys out…which is why I included K rate.

  14. JH on May 8th, 2007 11:46 am

    Am I crazy for thinking Jason Kubel’s still potentially an above average major league hitter?

  15. Dave on May 8th, 2007 11:49 am

    I wouldn’t suggest dumping Kubel, but he hasn’t shown much since that disastrous injury. It’s not like his struggles are bad luck, either – he’s just not walking much, not making contact, and failing to drive the ball when he does hit it. That’s a bad recipe.

    He needs to be a .320 hitter to be valuable with his lack of power or walks. I don’t think we can expect him to be a .320 hitter this year.

  16. joser on May 8th, 2007 11:55 am

    But Wlad for Baker is trading AAA talent, so would that be stopped by Bavasi’s Automatic Veteran Filter? The fact that Baker would then be eligible to get elevated as the M’s rotation collapse continues is a separate process. It’s not like he’s going to get an actual MLB pitcher, even a BOR one, even one better than Weaver, for any of the pieces the org would be willing to trade.

    Bavasi’s on record insisting that minor-league performance isn’t an indicator of major league performance.

    Which of course is somewhat contradictory with his “promote them until they fail” philosophy. If you promote them to AAA and they fail, but you don’t think that is an indicator of MLB performance, then… what? You’re basically saying not just that you don’t know anything, but that you can’t know anything. You’re Wittgenstein throwing darts.

  17. arbeck on May 8th, 2007 11:58 am


    Bavasi’s philosophy is that the jump from AAA to the majors is the largest one the players will make. He therefore expects all but the greatest of players to fail for a while when making that leap. He has decided that he does not want that to be the first time that they experience failure and want them to struggle in the minors to get them used to it.

  18. Max Power on May 8th, 2007 12:08 pm

    The M’s are essentially locked into Ibanez, Vidro, Beltre, Sexson, Lopez, Betancourt, and Johjima for next year.

    I assume that is true only if Bavasi is retained for next year as well, no? Wouldn’t most any new GM try very hard to offload Sexson & Vidro even if it meant eating salary?

  19. gwangung on May 8th, 2007 12:31 pm

    I could be wrong, but I think next year, we’ll see Wlad or AJ, but not both. And since Wlad is in his last option year, trade bait seems like his best use for the team.

    Best use/smart….I’m not sure that the organization could do that. I think Bavasi has a better feel for it than the rest of the organizations, but it seems to me that other admins tend to hold onto minor league talent for too long, far past their “use by” date. No one in the Mariners seems to have had a good sense of using the minor league talent (either on the big club, or in trades) with a good sense of timing.

  20. scraps on May 8th, 2007 1:19 pm

    The Yankees are terrific at offloading their minor league talent at maximum value.

  21. Gomez on May 8th, 2007 2:02 pm

    I doubt anyone’s going to take Sexson or Vidro at this point, especially given their salaries.

  22. G-Man on May 8th, 2007 2:30 pm

    If you think dealing Arias-Ortiz was bad, what do you think about the Twins letting him walk?

    As for Sexson, I cling to the data that shows he’s sometimes started slowly. However, the season is no longer young, and I won’t be clinging forever.

  23. Max Power on May 8th, 2007 2:34 pm

    So what does our hypothetical new GM do with them (Sexson/Vidro). I would think they would want them off the roster somehow but it would be difficult to justify a DFA in either case.

    As I recall, DePodesta paid the D-Backs a truckful of $$ to make Shawn Green go away a few years back, I would assume that a new GM would want to move them if only to clear the roster spots.

  24. arbeck on May 8th, 2007 2:44 pm


    I’m pretty sure you could deal both Vidro and Sexson if you were willing to eat their contracts and don’t expect much back. You might be able to get a fringe a-ball prospect for each one from someone desperate. That is assuming that we pay all their remaining salary.

  25. davepaisley on May 8th, 2007 2:45 pm

    Hmm, so Wlad could be the next David Arias/Ortiz?

  26. em on May 8th, 2007 2:50 pm

    It’s hard to speculate much without stooping to rosturbation, but there is no such thing as an isolated move.

    Best case scenario 2008:

    Addition by Subtraction: Sexson & Vidro
    Addition by Retention: Ichiro
    Addition by Relocation: Ibanez to DH
    Addition by Relocation: Broussard to 1B
    Addition by Addition: Jones to LF
    Addition by Reduction: Someone cheap to RF; or
    Addition by Replacement: Superstar to RF
    Addition by Addition: Clement to Bench
    Addition by Addition: A true
    Addition by Addition: A true #3 Starter
    Addition by Addition: A true #5 Starter

    Disposable Parts:

    *All RH bats in the system, except those that will appreciate in value rapidly over the near term

    *All “control” lefties

    *All “control” righties


  27. em on May 8th, 2007 2:52 pm

    That chopped line should read:

    Addition by Addition: A true #2 Starter

  28. arbeck on May 8th, 2007 3:04 pm


    I’m trying to avoid rosterbation myself, but… Broussard really needs a platoon partner for the days we face lefties. He’s also arbitration eligible again and unlikely to take a pay cut from 3.55 million. Seeing that first base is an easy position to fill aren’t we better off letting him walk and finding a cheaper replacement at first? You could even move Ibanez to first and find a new DH.

  29. JMHawkins on May 8th, 2007 3:06 pm

    Dave’s point about Wlad being a RH power hitter is a good one. He will never deliver his best MLB production in SafeCo. Given his current AAA numbers, I think moving him for something the team desperately needs (like a quality starter, or at least a prospect) makes all the sense in the world. Sell high, but Bavasi can spin the deal as “he’s a solid propsect, but a bad fit for our park and we really need pitching, so we’re willing to deal.”

    What are the chances/is the wisdom of resigning Guillen next year?

  30. arbeck on May 8th, 2007 3:16 pm


    I don’t see an upside to signing Guillen. I would figure Wlad gives you almost all the production for much less money. The option for his 2008 contract is $9 million. You could substitute Wlad for Guillen and spend the $9 million on a pitcher and come out ahead. Or you trade Wlad for pitching and spend the $9 million on a LH power bat for the outfield. The problem is, I don’t see anyone who fits that bill available.

  31. AuburnM on May 8th, 2007 3:24 pm

    Agree with the basic point here. We still need starting pitching more than we need another OF prospect. However, I’m not sure who to give up on yet.

    I think we can count on Felix and Washburn. After that, Weaver, Ramirez, Batista and Baek are all question marks. Each have looked good and bad at times. Adding another starter to the mix is the right move. It gives us room for error as we search for three more dependable starters.

  32. Matthew Carruth on May 8th, 2007 3:31 pm

    Hopefully Bavasi recognizes Balentien’s value as trade bait instead of simply DFAing him at years end Cruceta, Garciaparra

  33. Matthew Carruth on May 8th, 2007 3:31 pm

    Hmmm, it cut out my cough tags.

  34. marc w on May 8th, 2007 4:09 pm

    Very good point, matthew. I’d laugh at that suggestion, but part of me wonders if it could really happen…Bavasi suggesting that he really believed he could slip him through waivers, feigning surprise that he got picked up (by Pat Gillick)…this is my nightmare.

    I think the team needs slugging, especially with Ibanez and Sexson on the decline. Power is also the most overvalued commodity on the FA market.
    I think Wlad could actually get a shot if Guillen leaves, either at the deadline or in the offseason, as a platoon partner for Broussard. Especially given the org’s interest in trying Broussard in the corner OF spots. Wlad doesn’t have big platoon splits, but it looks like another big stride he’s made this year is killing lefties (SSA, of course, but he SHOULD kill ’em, as a righty). Seems like a good way to ease him into the rotation. Now, that doesn’t address the larger question of trade him or not, but I think it points to a *possible* way for him to earn a job with Seattle.
    I just think that if he’s around .300-.320/.380/.540 around the break, you have to find a place for him next year. Whether that’s Guillen, or whether that’s Ibanez-to-first-or-DH, I don’t care. At this point, it can’t be pinned on an increase in singles (his May BABIP is under .300 and he’s still hitting .304/.407/.565 – this is NOT a case of an inordinate amount of singles falling in) – at least not entirely.

    And beyond that, I worry that the org is now so infatuated with GB pitchers that they’d buy high on a borderline ‘spect who threw grounders, like a Bobby Livingston type. And speaking of Livingston, I’d want to know that Baker had a much higher upside; they both don’t walk anyone, but Baker’s K rate seems suspiciously high this year. Not saying that Livingston = Baker, but I’d want to know that my scouts all agreed that there was considerable distance btwn the two. And then I’d go talk to the scouts who advised me to not protect Livingston.

  35. Dave on May 8th, 2007 4:21 pm

    There’s no way the M’s would try and pass Balentien through waivers – they put him on the 40 man three years ago, when he was years from the majors, to keep from losing him. There won’t be a Cruceta redux here.

    And Baker isn’t at all like Livingston. He was a 2nd round pick, routinely hits 92 on the gun, and is not a no-stuff guy. He’s more like Gil Meche than Bobby Livingston.

  36. marc w on May 8th, 2007 4:39 pm

    Well, except that Gil Meche was never a control artist like either Livingston or Baker, and that Gil was traditionally a flyballer (until 2007). He may have Meche’s velocity, but Baker looks like a totally different pitcher.

    Livingston was a 4th rounder – is the difference in success rate btwn the 2nd and 4th rounds gigantic? I thought BP’s Rany Jazayerli looked into this last year (when I had an account) – there wasn’t much of a difference. Could be wrong.

    I acknowledge that Livingston is

  37. terrybenish on May 8th, 2007 4:39 pm

    53 “Not really – I think most of us are aware that trading Ichiro would be a monumental effort that required approval from all kinds of executive powers. It’s not the kind of thing that Bavasi can just do. I’m not saying he won’t be traded under any circumstances, but I don’t think we should assume that he certainly will be.”

    You’re certainly aware then that both Randy Johnson and Ken Griffey Jr. were traded and Rodriguez was let go and Ichiro is nowhere near the player any of those three were when they departed.

    So I’m sure they could get their ducks in a row to do a deal with Ichiro as the principal portion. Similarly, it was said earlier, but Raul is a nice player having a late run, but he’s just not that good and to confer some kind of blessing upon him is a measure of how bad the management of the team has slid. Woody Woodward would be an upgrade. At least he knew what a player looked like and where in his lifecyle he stood.

  38. marc w on May 8th, 2007 4:42 pm

    Whoa, something got cut off on 86; seems like a bit of a philosophical sentence fragment.

    Anyway, I would acknowledge that Baker was more of a FB pitcher in the past – he was under 40% GB in 2006 and he’s closing in on 50% in 2007. So again, which Baker are we getting? that’s why you have scouts, of course.

  39. Grizz on May 8th, 2007 5:25 pm

    Neither Randy nor Junior were Japanese. Rodriguez is actually an “M’s won’t trade Ichiro” example.

  40. gwangung on May 8th, 2007 6:22 pm

    Similarly, it was said earlier, but Raul is a nice player having a late run, but he’s just not that good and to confer some kind of blessing upon him is a measure of how bad the management of the team has slid. Woody Woodward would be an upgrade. At least he knew what a player looked like and where in his lifecyle he stood.

    No, I think the management has always been this way. And Bavasi has been aware of that (there have been comments about difficulties early in his tenure about cutting fan favoriates and marketing driving personnel decisions; obviously, the lessons haven’t sunk in as they should).

  41. The Ancient Mariner on May 8th, 2007 8:41 pm

    Re: #87 — right, and remember that both the Unit and Junior deals were “monumental effort[s] that required approval from all kinds of executive powers” (thus, for instance, we had Chris Whatsisname scuttling the Unit-to-LA deal).

  42. wsm on May 9th, 2007 6:33 am

    Why not trade Broussard to Minnesota instead of Balentien? Minnesota’s LF problems extend to DH as well with the same guys jockeying with Cirillo for ABs. Broussard is an instant fix for them and it doesn’t mortgage our future at all.

  43. BigB on May 9th, 2007 9:12 am

    Agree with two of these trades, however I’m not sure about Anaheim needing to make a move. Reggie Willits has filled in great for Garrett Anderson… but I guess you could DH Jones

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